Insight News

Feb 12th

Time to end political divide and concur

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A lot of television talking heads seem to think Republicans don’t understand why they lost the election.

I think Republicans understand that demographics are changing. They just don’t give a damn about the changing demographics. They’ve been at work trying to neutralize the effect of these emerging demographics for some years now.

I don’t believe they are figuring ways to woo you to their side. I think they’re figuring ways to tie your hands when next it’s time to vote.

Republicans and their Tea Party co-conspirators spent a ton of money on their failed, top down approach to stealing the country “back.” But, that has only been part of the plan. True, they had Gov. Mitt Romney poised to repeal “Obamacare,” eviscerate Social Security and Medicare, deregulate Wall Street and protect corporate tax loopholes. But, Plan B has been humming along for years.

We thought the long lines we saw at the polls in ‘08 were the signs of a great popular groundswell of support for Obama. Try to remember footage of long lines of upper class white folks in largely Republican counties. I can’t either. Long lines are manipulated in traditionally Democratic areas in an effort to discourage those voters. In 2004 and 2008, the organization, ACORN, had an impact on voter registration in urban areas. It was vilified and attacked by Republicans, using undercover operatives posing as pimps and whores; code for criminals “in the urban life.”

By mid-2010 ACORN was gone, lines at the polls were getting longer, voter ID laws were being enacted or attempted in states where Republicans were in control of legislatures and governors’ mansions. That effort has mushroomed. By 2011 Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was piloting the effort to break unions in his state. Massive amounts of outside money fueled that effort and his later fight against recall. These type efforts will not stop. They are constantly being refined. Now, Michigan’s lame duck legislature has passed “right to work” laws. So, the political landscape in Michigan has been drastically altered by some legislators who’ve already been voted out of office or “recalled.”

I’ve heard that two-thirds of President Obama’s campaign contributions came from large donors. Some of that had to be unions like United Auto Workers. Make no mistake, if (or when) the number of dues paying workers diminishes; the money that unions have to spend on politicians who support their interests diminishes, as well. Unions have allowed the worker to stand toe-to-toe with the employer. Before unions, employers set wages, work hours, conditions and benefits as they wished.

And the “ground game” – door knocking and phone banking, that was so often referred to as being responsible for getting Obama’s support to the polls was made up, in large part, by union rank and file.

So, we have the misnamed Citizens United which allows corporate money by the million to insert itself into the political process while shielding its name and brand from view. Not only is it an abomination that a corporation can spend its money in a way that would anger its employees and customers. Customers have no way of retaliating. So, citizens can send their $50 to their candidate of choice and be unaware that every third latte or tank of gas winds up in the campaign fund of their candidate’s opponent. You can’t have the information you’d need to decide between Caribou and Starbucks, for example. Pick any two competitors here. Imagine if you knew that AT&T was supporting the candidate that wanted to limit women’s access to reproductive health screenings and T-Mobile was supporting the opponent. Who would you decide to be overpaying for cell service?

In the coming months, you are likely to hear of Republican plans to continue to undercut the capacity of this coalition of people of color, young women, gays, Latinos and middle class working folks.

And, even though the next Democratic presidential candidate is likely to be white, don’t expect Republicans to be wooing the African-American vote. They like us best shackled, castrated and emasculated. I expect them to stop talking about “self deportation” and access to contraceptives, but code words like food stamps will continue to be used to frighten the working poor white folks in their pickup trucks.

Divide and conquer is a time honored tactic and strategy. We must be about keeping our coalition together and working toward Democratically controlled House, Senate, governors’ mansions and legislatures. Otherwise, they will deport the rest of our jobs and continue to imprison our young folks.


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